Today's Headlines and Commentary
Today’s Headlines and Commentary
By Jane Chong
The mayor of Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, was shot in the back and is now "fighting for his life," according to USA Today. Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine seized monitors from Germany, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic this weekend, reported the BBC. The monitors had been sent in by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to encourage compliance with the international peace deal. Only one monitor, a Swede, has been released, writes Al Jazeera America. Separatists have also seized control of the TV station in the city of Donetsk and have replaced Ukrainian TV with Russian channels, reports the Guardian. Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk has accused Russia of seeking to start World War III, says Reuters.
The U.S. has just imposed additional sanctions against the Russian government today, including freezing assets for 17 companies, writes the New York Times. Meanwhile European banks and businesses with deep economic ties to Russia are lobbying to prevent or dilute sanctions, complicating the attempts of American and European political leaders to devise measures to influence the Kremlin's conduct in Ukraine. The New York Times reports.
What to make of the propaganda being promulgated in eastern Ukraine? On Sunday the Times ran an op-ed by Keith Darden on the confusion created by propaganda machines on both sides of the conflict:
An absence of legitimate authority in eastern Ukraine has left an absence of transparent, agreed-upon facts — a breeding ground for suspicion and manipulative diplomatic games on the margins of the truth that may yet carry the region to war.
On Sunday, Syria missed a deadline to complete the export or destruction of about 1,200 tons of chemicals in its arsenal, after missing the original deadline back in February---the regime has about 7.5% percent of the arsenal left. Here's the New York Times. The Washington Post cites Obama administration officials who say that Kuwait is the leading source of funding for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists involved in Syria's civil war.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Iraqi military is demoralized, underequipped and losing the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS. This weekend, with Wednesday's parliamentary elections just days away, jihadist gunmen blew up two bridges outside the town of Qara Tepe, detonated a fuel tanker at a police base, shot twelve soldiers and attacked four other police and army checkpoints.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the Holocaust as "the most heinous crime" of modern history, reported the Times this weekend. But, as noted by Politico, Israel's Prime Minister has dismissed Abbas's remarks as an attempt to placate the West in the face of failing peace talks.
The New York Times also reported this weekend that in order to encourage open political discussion, the U.S. had built Twitter-esque social media programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan---but that those programs have shut down. As in Cuba, it appears American officials lacked a long-term strategy for making the programs self-sustaining. Similar programs have been started or will soon be in the works in dozens of other countries.
On Saturday, five NATO troops were killed in the crash of a British helicopter in southern Afghanistan; the Washington Post reports that the incident is under investigation.
German chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with President Obama on Friday. The Guardian notes that the U.S. has so far refused to allow Merkel access to her NSA file and cites German opposition leaders who have called on Merkel to ask for her NSA file to be destroyed and to seek answers about the NSA affair.
A new, ten-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement grants the U.S. military greater access to bases across the Philippines, according to the AP.
The attempts of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri's defense attorney to suspend pretrial preparation until his client gets better healthcare have been temporarily sidelined---after it was revealed on Friday that an Army doctor who was to defend detainee medical care was improperly asked to watch a secure feed of court testimony that described his detainee patient as a torture victim in the lead-up to trial proceedings. The Miami Herald has the story.
The snail pace of federal hiring is undermining the Department of Homeland Security's concerted efforts to attract top cybersecurity talent, says Reuters.
It's disturbingly easy to hack hospital equipment, Wired's "Threat Level" reported on Friday, citing the findings of a two-year study conducted by Essentia Health's information security head Scott Erven.
Bad news for "NCIS" watchers in Beijing: Chinese regulators have ordered streaming video websites to take down the series, along with three other American shows. The regulators are promulgating new regulations that will close a loophole that has allowed shows to air online, when censors have limited them on broadcast television. Here's the New York Times.
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